“I have never had anyone suffer from cancer in my family till date”
“My great Grandma, my Grandma and one of her siblings…they all died of cancer in my family”
How Many of Us Believe that Family History Has a Role to Play in Predicting the Occurrence of Cancer in a Family?
The answers would differ as much as many people we would ask!
A historical mapping of expression of certain genes and occurrence of abnormalities such as mutations in the past has been found to play a key role in understanding the progression of cancer. It provides with essential information such as relevant age during which the cancer most commonly occurs, gender specificity and alongside also outlines the type of variants that undergo mutation.
But Why Is It Necessary to Know the Family History For Any Cancer Diagnosis?
Literature in the past is suggestive that women with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) syndrome are highly susceptible towards ovarian and breast cancer. Therefore, in such cases it becomes important to track the family history for these diseases. Also, if the patient is believed to have a family history, she can be referred for genetic counselling and testing.
Genetic counselling followed by genetic testing clearly unwinds the risk associated with developing a cancer due to prevalence of the cancer in the past. Not only your genes, that are transferred from your ancestors capable of coding for cancer, but also inherited habits such as smoking, excessive drinking, lack of exercise and unhealthy eating. These factors potentially contribute as much as mutated genes which is why it becomes essential to go for genetic testing. Surprisingly, literature is also suggestive that non-inheritance of these unhealthy habits might also decrease the chances of being diagnosed of cancer.
What Is It That I Should Know If Cancer Runs In My Family?
The family history plays an important role especially when we consider a relative (immediate cousins and siblings in the family tree) having or survived cancer. So make sure that;
- If you have cancer in your family history, you are at an increased chances of carrying those mutations, so immediately book an appointment for genetic counselling
- Make sure you live a healthy lifestyle and stay away from inherited unhealthy habits that may increase the chances of getting cancer too.
What Is It That I Should Know If Cancer DOES NOT Runs In My Family?
Not having a family history for cancer makes you lucky only if you yourself continue to be cautious about tracking your own health too. Therefore make sure,
- Certain cancer kick in only at a certain age and amongst a particular gender. Therefore, make sure you are screened for those cancers at regular intervals.